A Brief Nature Walk

I took a break from overdosing on college basketball & watching my bracket go POOF today with a walk to a nearby ‘hood with a duck pond.

Signs everywhere implore people not to feed the little bastards, but as soon as I knelt down to take the above pic, this trio waddled towards me rather aggressively since I’d clearly given them the “Big scary monkey is about to give us free food” body language. Everyone must feed them since they’re so damn cute! This made me wonder about all the non-cute animals people don’t feed – spiders, wolverines, possums…. or the coyotes wandering my neighborhood (unless they leave their pets outside, I guess).

I had no food, so that big brown one on the left took it upon himself to try eating my hand. He gave up after two pecks. I guess I don’t taste good. I didn’t try to pat him.

They don’t want affection. They just want a handout, those cold unfeeling duck whores. No wonder Scrooge McDuck never got married.

Along with the assorted varieties of ducks, there are also Canadian Geese who also have absolutely no fear of people. This big ol’ dude didn’t care how close I got to snap his picture. At least he didn’t immediately switch into food-begging mode like those panhandling ducks.

Biggest cat toy ever, I thought.

But Canadian Geese have a nasty disposition. I’ve seen them attack each other, attack other birds or ducks, or even refuse to get out of the way of golfers on fairways. They’re just pricks.

There are also turtle families along the pond.

They go in and out of the water all day, alternately sunning themselves to warm up, and then back in the water to chase whatever fish the pond is stocked with. They sit so still in the sun you’d think they were decorative sculptures.

Turtles don’t turn up much in art either. While painters in history have loved to capture the look and texture of birds, ducks, waterfowl of all sorts (never mind all sorts of other animals), you won’t find a lot of turtles or tortoises in nature paintings.

But you’ll find ducks, especially in the works of Alexander Koester, a German naturalist artist of the turn of the last century who painted ducks nearly as much as Louis Wain painted cats. Koester had a nice quasi-impressionist style, and painted a ton of groups-of-ducks-on-water works. They must have been popular.

This one is typical – “Ducks At Lakeshore”

I bet none of them tried to bite Alexander.

I’m using ground turkey in my pasta sauce tonight, now that I’m home and settled in to watch more basketball, as well as “The Shadow of the Cat” on tonight’s Svengoolie.

Maybe the duck knew that. Maybe he was buds with the turkey. Maybe it was personal. Hmmm….

Friday Art: The Demoness of Urgency by Friedrich Schroder-Sonnenstern (1958)

Schroder-Sonnenstern is one of the better examples of the “art brut” style, dubbed “outsider art” by Jean Dubuffet as sort of a catch-all term for the sorts of wild amateur art that would often come out of mental asylums.

His works often depict strange figures combining human and animal form, painted in a bizarre almost cartoony style that reminds me a lot of the cartoon art of Ralph Steadman or Arnold Roth. The dude had a rough life, bouncing along from the army to the circus to prison to labor camps to alcoholism.

I like this one, with its pointy demonic shapes from the nose & tongue as well as the legs and that happenin’ cone hair-do. The propeller and sail are a nice touch too. And she’s literally hell on wheels.

This guy’s stuff needs to be animated into weird psychadelic cartoon nightmare material.

The Joys Of Nature

For the past couple of weeks, some local coyote has been crapping in my front yard during the late night hours. Today was dump #4, pretty much in the same spot of lawn that the previous leavings have been. This is how coyotes often mark central core territory, so I guess my house must be the hub of all local coyote activity while I’m sleeping the night away.

This explains all the packages from Acme left at my door.

I’ve got the only lawn in the immediate area comprised of thick and bushy St. Augustine grass – I have a feeling that this coyote must prefer it the way a lot of us prefer a particular brand of toilet paper.

I don’t walk around on my front lawn all that much so this isn’t a big deal, just an annoyance. I’d been cleaning it up each time but now I’ll see what happens if I leave it out there until garbage pick up day when I can shovel it into the bin.

Hopefully it won’t lead to a contest between a bunch of the damn things crapping all over my lawn to claim the territory. At that point, they ought to be helping me pay my mortgage.

Baseball Card of the Day: 1975 Topps Boog Powell

Boog looks like I feel now that I know that baseball is nearly back.

And a nice piece of big sports normal today – the Texas Rangers announced their stadium will be at 100% fan capacity on opening day, April 5. Hopefully other teams will follow.

Enough of this shit.

John Wesley “Boog” Powell played first base and outfield mostly for the great Oriole teams of the late 60s and 70s. He won the MVP in 1970, the year the Orioles won the Series. I remember him as one of those huge lumbering hulk type guys who’d bash the crap out of the ball and stand there like a sequoia for guys trying to slide.

Back in the day, opening up that first pack of Topps cards not only meant getting that year’s cards of whatever great players I was after… Thurman Munson, Reggie Jackson, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, etc etc… it also meant seeing what the cards would look like that year, design-wise. What did the front look like? What colors were for which team? Did they have insignias? And very, very important…. how many stats were on the back? Would we get complete stats, like in ’72, or would it be just a “last year’s stats” back like in ’71?

Well, 1975 gave us some BITCHIN SEVENTIES PSYCHADELIC COLORS, didn’t it? You had the 2 complimentary color border theme for different teams, along with those neon-bright colors and black shadow in the lettering. The photos were mostly decent. It was jarring in its day, to be honest… a step beyond the funky colors and fonts of the enormous 1972 set, and coming after 2 years of what I still think are some of best designed cards for Topps, the 1973 and 1974 sets.

Better than this year’s design – check this out:

The photo and border are great, I’ll give it that – digital photography is a big improvement over the old school cards, especially for action shots (as much as I missed the badly and obviously posed shots of yesteryear) – but look how small the lettering is and how tough it is to read the player’s name and position. You have to make an effort to find it, and it’s the first thing that should leap out at you. They’re overshadowed by the team insignia. And now Topps spends the entire year issuing extra cards for so many players that it’s a mess to keep track. I mean, I love Aaron Judge, but I would not want to have to hunt down a new action photo card of him every time he hits a home run. And it seems like that’s how often they come out. Bah.

But back in 1975? A fixed set, with the bonus cards and extras kept simple. Certainly easier to read. But yeah, those colors were a bit much. It’s a fun set to browse through now for all sorts of nostalgia purposes, but it’s still got that acid-trip vibe to it.

Maybe Boog is reacting to the acid trip on that card. He’s looking up in the sky, but he doesn’t see the pop up from the batter….HE SEES THROUGH TIME, MAN!!!!

I’m Worried About Inflation & Other Random Thoughts

Everything I know about Milton Friedman’s ideas tell me it’s coming. Not looking forward to it, either.

I’m sure Milton liked kreplach, but not at that price.

Today I officially became a “cord cutter,” and got rid of my satellite TV service. No way to really justify spending that amount of money to watch barely a half dozen channels from time to time. I was proud of myself for keeping the rep from spending too much of my time trying to talk me out of it by cracking lots of jokes. She took a liking to me for making her laugh and expedited the process in under 5 minutes.

Either that, or women just don’t want to talk to me.

In any case, it’s done. And now I’ll get my allotment of TV reruns via Locast, which I can recommend if you’re in one of their markets. They cover about half the country.

I spent the last few weeks burning through the two dozen or so saved movies in my DVR before I have to send it back. I might be movie-d out for a while, but it was worth it – I think I only bailed on one of ’em, all the others were good calls to record & watch, nearly all for the first time, or for the first time in many years. Maybe I’ll write about them in this space soon. I’ve been neglecting this blog for a while, even with the increased amount of time I’ve been stuck home with all this crapola.

In the meantime, I guess I should be buying gold, or bitcoin, or kreplach. Gotta put that nest egg somewhere.

Another GREATEST FILM EVER MADE

Certainly the most ’70s trailer I’ve seen. Just listen to that quasi-porn funk guitar soundtrack. Check out those bleached out colors. How about the car smashups with those old gas guzzling bombers?

Not ’70s enough for you? How about the stiff line readings for whatever dialogue we get, or spotting Richard Jaeckel as most likely cop and Lloyd Bochner clearly as mob boss?

Funny… this morning I was thinking about Bochner’s classic Twilight Zone where the aliens have him on the menu in “To Serve Man.” Then I remembered how be played Pia Zadora’s impotent husband in “The Lonely Lady.”

Ah well. He mostly did TV in the 70s and 80s, like Dynasty and the like. But he’s great in “Point Blank” and on an old Wild Wild West where he plays a demented genius puppeteer with life size puppets.

Jaeckel mostly played sleazebags, due to those wild eyes of his. Not quite Steve Railsback level, but close enough.

But a wheelchair with shotguns in the arms? I’m in! Time to hunt this piece of crap down and put it on my own menu.

I have a feeling that the two minute trailer will be more entertaining than the film itself, but let’s hope I’m wrong. Perhaps some heavy doses of slo-mo martial arts fight scenes and gratuitous nudity will truly make this one a classic.

My Fearless Superbowl 2021 Prediction

Even though he’s not on my team anymore, I’m still rooting for Tom Brady.

He won 6 more Superbowls for the Patriots than I ever thought I’d see them win when I grew up watching them lose in the first round every year, or finally make it to the Superbowl in ’86 only to embarrass themselves.

So even if it feels like watching divorced dad with his new family, I’ll be rooting for Brady, Gronk and Tampa in Sunday’s festivities… but the cold-hearted soul-less analyst in me is thinking Chiefs win by something like 31-28. At least that’s what I got when I crunched all the stats, sport-betting wise (and I’m not betting on the game, especially since my calculations put the result way too close to the spread).

I predict a good game, with back and forth leads… but in the end, I think Mahomes and the Chiefs are just a better team than the Bucs.

But who knows? I’d love to be wrong on this one.

A Tasty Culinary Abomination

This one felt wrong when I looked at the interior of my fridge and thought of it, but I gotta say… it was beyond easy and tasted really good. <insert your own joke here>

I made what I can only refer to as “California Roll Soft Tacos.”

Let’s be honest, sushi people – California roll is ALREADY an abomination. One of the better long-gone sushi bars of Los Angeles, Sushi Nozawa, would actually THROW YOU OUT if you ordered it.

But what can I say? I’ll eat any kind of seafood if it tastes decent. Kinda like the way I’m a total pasta gourmet and snob, but would still snarf down Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese out of a box or even Chef Boyardee.

So I had some fake crabmeat I’d figured on making some simple sammiches with, but instead, I did this:

  1. Chopped up said fake crabmeat and tossed with mayo, set aside
  2. Took 2 avocados, mashed ’em up with some lemon juice and salt, set aside
  3. Seeded/sliced up some cucumber into long strips, as well as some shredded carrot – set aside.
  4. Made a quick abomination of sushi rice – basically, 1/2 cup of rice rinsed until the water was reasonably clear, cooked in cup of water – bring to boil, simmer until mostly done, then let sit off heat for 10 minutes. Then I mixed it with a tablespoon of vinegar rice. Set aside.
  5. Warmed up some flour tortillas, soft taco size.
  6. Assembly! A layer of the rice in the tortilla, followed by pressing the crab, avocado into it, then the cucumber and carrot.
  7. Rolled it up tight and alternated between sprinkling soy sauce or tabasco on it, in between bites.

And it was DAMN GOOD.

Certainly a good thing to do with the fake crab from now on. And, minus the hint of salt/crisp from the seaweed wrapper of an actual California Roll, pretty much the same affect.

And considering how I got all the major ingredients at the local Aldi…. DIRT CHEAP!

I’m sure if I wanted to spring for actual sushi quality fish, the same sushi-burrito motif would work just fine with a tweak here and there with the other ingredients. And yes, I did miss the picked ginger, although I mostly eat that as a palate cleanser when switching between fish at an actual sushi bar.

I keep wondering if dim sum or a sushi bar will be my first long sit-down restaurant meal once this covid bullshit is over with. But in the meantime… I guess I’ll try to come up with more stuff like this.

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